Saturday, September 9, 2017

Whaaa? It's September already?

As much as I want to keep new posts up on the blog,
As much as I truly believe consistency creates a presence,
As much as I love to write,
As much as I have a passion for librarianship,
Life still happens.

I admire the folks who can remain consistent in their blogging despite busy-ness that clearly happens for all of us, but I am apparently not one of them.  At least, not yet.

I have learned that I need "white space" in my life in order to be my best self.  I need time to think and breathe and be.  With school starting and hurricanes blowing and training a new assistant and one of my kiddos now attending my school and us both adjusting to her being in high school (and dealing with some serious mean-girl issues) and the other having after-school transportation issues-----well, something had to give.

I've come home weary and unable to "brain" well after shifting back into beginning-of-the-year school mode.
I've come home most school nights with barely enough energy to feed my family, do enough dishes and laundry to keep us rolling, and take hot Epsom salt baths.

My bullet journal and my workouts have suffered, too, and I've passed on nearly every invitation I've received to get together with friends whom I love.  Y'all, sometimes I just can't do one more thing.

And I refuse to feel guilty about it.

I think it is far too easy to fall into the trap of believing you have to do all the things and be all the things for all the people all of the time.  I don't want to let folks down, but I also know this is truth for me---if I do not practice self-care and self-compassion and listen to my gut about what I need to function as my highest self then I will run out of steam, catch every cold that comes around, feel resentful, act like a martyr, and ultimately be no good for anyone around me.

I'm beginning to catch my breath with this new school year.  I'm settling in and feeling less like I'm drowning.

And so here it is---September 9th---and I'm blogging again.

I hope your school year has started off beautifully.
Be gentle with yourself and listen to your gut, friends.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer PD

We were fortunate this year that our upper admin granted us time to hold some summer professional development days---two days paid, two days comp days, which was awesome.  I have never had a district admin team show as much support for libraries and librarians as my current team and it is much appreciated.

Y'all, we had a blast.

We have 2 new members of our team and another who just joined us in the spring, so not only did we do a lot of learning, we did a lot of bonding this week.  I sent out a Google form in the spring so everyone could give their input on what they wanted to learn/work on and what book they wanted for our book study this year. Everything we did was designed & taught by our very own team. Flexibility was intentionally built into our schedule so we could run with those teachable moments and move along quickly when everyone already "got it."

We went over our proposed new state standards, Future-Ready Librarian information, and maker-spaces for all levels. We worked through the process of creating a new Mission and Vision statement.


We played with an Epic Instagram Challenge I used (my fave!) to create this challenge as a way to help us think beyond our usual go-to's with photos and social media updates of library happenings. We didn't all actually post our pics on Insta, but this was practice for the upcoming year. (feel free to use it if you like it)


We had time to play with, Google, and our Texquest resources and brainstorm ideas about how to get the word out to our stakeholders about all things in library land.

We discussed Gary Hartzell's work about building influence and specifically referenced Doug Johnson's blog post about making the principal your ally.

We got our new book-study books and I AM SO PUMPED.

We broke into elementary/secondary specific sessions, too, for a bit.  Author visits and Bluebonnet Battles were planned. We came out of this week with a new shared Google Drive folder and are looking forward to building content together.

We discussed the power of Twitter chats for awesome continued growth, and are planning to do one as a team to get the newbies used to them. You just can't understand the amazingness of them until you live it.

On the next-to-last day our Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction stopped by.  We were energized as a team to see their genuine excitement and support of our library programs.  Without a shadow of a doubt, we know that they recognize that strong school libraries support student achievement---and that is super-affirming.

I want to thank my new partner-in-crime for stepping up to take the lead elementary librarian role.(She blogs over at MrsTaylorsTales, so go check her out!) We have a shared vision and are working towards excellence!

I am so energized for this coming year, guys.  What are you doing to get inspired?  I'd love to hear all about it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Literacy Honor Cords


I'm super excited to get LIT this year with literacy honor cords available to earn from the library! I've been looking for a way to really create a culture of literacy at my high school, and I think this is a fun and important step to take in that process.

A few weeks ago I posted on the ALA Think-Tank Facebook group asking folks to share their fabulous secondary library webpages.  One of my new librarian friends shared her website and it included info about their literacy cords.  I was intrigued and began searching out info from other schools who also gave these.  I only found one other school (full disclosure I did not spend weeks upon weeks searching---this from a cursory search) who bestowed these, but I love the idea and decided to run with it.  I messaged my friend, too, and she clarified a few things about their specific program for me.

After coming up with an initial list of requirements, I met with the National English Honor Society sponsor to get input, and now I've  sent it to our principal for approval.  I'm meeting with him next week to see where things stand.  Once I have it set in stone, I'll post it on the blog.

Honor cords weren't a thing when I graduated oh-so-long ago, and I didn't realize what a HUGE deal they are to the kids until I moved up to work at the high school 3 years ago.  Dude! They are serious about these and it becomes almost a competition of sorts to see how many you can earn. 

I'm all in.  While I don't love giving trinkets for reading, I DO love the idea of treating reading as something worthy of honor at graduation.  Let's reward our students for their hard work and commitment to reading. 

Monday, July 17, 2017


Still in my #Tayshaslist reading quest, I've managed to read a couple more this week.

The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman, is a fantasy set in the Regency era.  I happen to be a super-fan of this time in history, and love a good paranormal mystery.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for the second book in the series to be available.

I'm still reading The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. Currently, I'm about half-way through it and am enjoying it so far.  The main character is on the young end for a typical YA, but it has been interesting to take a look at the time period (the story is set in 1911) and I'm quite fascinated as this book was inspired by the diary of the author's grandmother.

On Audible, I've got book Hush Now, Don't You Cry by Rhys Bowen, the 11th book in the Molly Murphy mystery series.  Weirdly, I've found I can enjoy cleaning and decluttering to this book better than anything else I've tried.  Whatever works, I guess!

What are YOU reading?

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Monday! What are YOU reading?

I'm finding that much of my reading is falling into two distinct categories this summer.  Tayshas list books and books on hygge.  There are a few other books I'm reading here and there, but I'll put all of them into miscellaneous--a bit of leadership, a bit of pedagogy, a bit of non-fiction on non-hygge topics and a mystery or two--but for the most part I'm on a Tayshas/hygge roll here.

I took Lara Avery's The Memory Book with me to Austin this past weekend.  I was attending Texas Library Association's Annual Assembly and my meetings were staggered at weird intervals which meant I would have some reading time in-between.

This book.  Oh, my heart.  I loved it, so.  Written as journal entries into a book to help retain her memories, Sammie shows us what it is to be human.  I finished this book right before my last meeting of the day on Saturday and went in weepy.  This book is gorgeous and hard and requires tissues. Loved this #tayshaslist book.

I also took Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King with me.

I've just started reading this one, but am totally intrigued by the characters thus far.  Another #tayshaslist book.  If you didn't get a chance to listen to the #KidsDeserveIt podcast or watch it with Todd Nesloney interviewing Jeff Zentner, it is worth going back to watch. Lawyer by day, writer by night?  Dude, I need some lessons.  I have been working on book ideas for ages and find it exceedingly difficult to wrangle the time between my library work and my mama work.

My newest book purchase.  After my final meeting of the weekend, I just had to swing by Book People.  I should probably mention that it is one of my most favorite places on earth.  I could easily spend hours there.  Anyhow, I went in looking specifically for this book--it was only available through my public library on ebook, and truly I hate reading on my phone.  Also, it just doesn't seem very hygge to read on a phone to me, not to mention that it was checked out already anyway.  I started it last night and am enjoying it.  It is a beautiful little book and I feel more surrounded and filled by hygge just by reading it.

Have I mentioned that my goal is to have the most Book People-ish high school library in the world? #goals #hygge

What are YOU reading?

Monday, July 3, 2017

It's Monday, what are YOU reading?

Summertime, and the livin's easy!  One of the very best things about summer is the free time to read. It is just delicious, isn't it!

One of my main goals is to read all the Tayshas books---yes, there are a ton of them, but yes, I'm going to keep at it 'till I get it done.

Oh, but I enjoyed this one!  What a delightfully snarky main character!  I just felt like I knew him and his friends, you know?  Brilliant.  A delightful coming-of-age story with fun, quirky characters.

This is a lovely book.  Genuinely beautiful.  Lyrical writing that dances with your senses.  The 4 teens each have a story which intertwines beautifully in the end.

And in other reading--

I came across the perfect memoir for someone like me who is fairly obsessed with the idea of hygge. I am so enjoying reading about such a different culture and the author is both humorous and interesting.

And lastly, I'm listening to the Audible version of a wonderful cozy mystery series I enjoy--Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen, the 1oth book in the Molly Murphy Mystery series. This is a fun series to listen to while I clean and attempt to achieve the homey-hygge I mentioned above.

What are YOU reading?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

looking ahead

I'm thinking about my goals for the coming school year.  What do I want to accomplish this year? What are my top priorities for moving the library forward? I'm really still in the brainstorming process here, and will continue to take a look at the space itself, at the new state standards (currently still in draft version, but available as we continue to work on them), the Future-Ready Library information, and the TEKS for my grade levels as I make a list of To-Do's and work to prioritize them.

Future-Ready is divided into 8 sections that center around personalized student learning.
So, here, in no particular order, is my current list of things I would like to accomplish this year.  As the summer moves forward, I'll look at prioritizing and plotting & planning. 
  • Thorough weeding of the Reference  and non-fiction sections.  I need the space to be put to better use.  I've farmed out a ton of books already to the art department.  I've put some up for adoption.  I've moved the green books into a storage location for future book-tree building opportunities. I bought a cat-shaped book to show my fabulous shop teachers what I want to have done to some of them.  I've saved some to rip pages out of for blackout poems and other artsy stuff, but there is only so much storage space I'm willing to give up.  I really, really hate to dumpster them, but yeah, I'll probably have to with some of them as there are JUST.SO.MANY.  ugh. 
  • Building some community partnerships.  I've been working with our local public librarians (who are seriously amazing, by the way), and now I'm looking to branch out to create some new partnerships, as well.  
  • Create a stunning new website.  Mine is seriously lacking. 
  • I need to up my social media game.  Why?  Because I need to reach my stakeholders with the great news of our library, and I need to do this more than every-once-in-a-while.  Consistency creates a presence. 
  • Create new signage.  Mine is no longer correct since I've genrefied. 
  • Collaborate with more teachers, building on what we've already done.  I'll have many new teachers at my campus next year and want to start them off knowing we can partner up and that it isn't an "extra" thing for them---that it will be curricularly based and not a waste of precious class time. 
  • I want to increase my Maker area, which is currently all low-tech, and add the tech portion to it. 
  • I want the library to be utilized in better ways---honed in to student's needs better.  Not just open and available as a place, but really more of a concierge atmosphere in a way. 
  • Teach my teachers and students how to use our digital resources effectively--particularly our TexQuest resources.
  • Teach my teachers and students how to use our newly updated Destiny resources.
  • increase our digital holdings and market them better.
What are YOUR goals for the coming school year?